Friday, July 31, 2009

Cyclocross 2009: Who to Watch

Registration is already open for September cross events and the list of competitors in the Cat 3 field for 2009 is looking pretty strong. I used our favorite cyclocross geek's predictive tool to get a sense of what might be in store for the Cat 3 field at the first Verge race of the season.

Let's take a look at what has to say about the performance of the top 5 finishers in VT:

Todd Burns: I don't know Todd. Crossresults tells me he is going to win so I will obviously be looking out for him at the start line. I'll try to follow his wheel and see if I can upset the predictive tool. Todd, if you're out there, let us know what you've been doing this summer to prepare for your upcoming victory (no pressure though)

Pete Sullivan: I saw Pete on the road a bit this summer. He said he'd never raced road events before but he certainly knows how to get around a cross course pretty quickly. With his teammate scheduled to solo to victory, we can expect Pete to provide some excellent blocking and controlling at the front of the chasing peloton. Nantucket Velo (Really? The island has like 15 miles of roads, how can there be a Velo?) looks to be the dominant force in the Cat 3 field so far.

Cary Fridrich: Cary stepped it up in 2008 and from what I've seen in 2009, third place is the lowest we're likely to find him. Don't let his aliases fool you (it's Cary, not Gary or Carey). This season he was crushing it when we attempted the 6 gap and he's been mountain biking a lot lately, building on his handling skills for this season. If Cary avoids mechanicals and uses those newly acquired mtb handling skills, you can expect him to be a series contender as he represents for Embrocation Cycling Journal
Brian Wilichoski: I don't know this cat but looking at his results you can see he has made quick work of the Cat 4 field and many of the Cat 3 racers as well. Look at his nemeses. The only two names are a guy who regularly races UCI level and a guy who dominated the Cat 2/3 field last season. Plus, he is apparently in the minor league/development program with so we can expect the TJ and JPow skills to manifest this season.

Greg Burbridge: This guy will kill you with his unassuming appearance and calm demeanor. Every time I see him at an event I smile. He's a good guy and an even better bike rider. No skinsuits, no shaved legs, and no cocky attitude (obviously not a roadie). I always say to myself I should stick to his wheel. Next thing I know he is gone and I am in a world of hurt. He doesn't bless the New England cross season with his presence nearly often enough but when he does you can bet he will light it up at the front.

I'm sure there will be more names added to the list. I've even heard rumors of last year's series winner returning to defend his title although I would hope he has more class than that.

All around town the talk is about tubulars, non-Verge races, and embrocation. That means cyclocross season is right around the corner. I'll be hitting the trails on the cross bike regularly, perfecting the smooth remount, gluing tubulars, and dusting off the skinsuit. In the meantime, I might get motivated to put up some more profiles so tell me who you think will be at the front when the mud stops flying in December.

No doubt this year will be fun. After all, Zanconato is returning to the scene, so what more could New England cross ask for?


Colin R said...

Wilichoski crushed the 4s at Fitchburg and he will crush the 3's at Verge. that is my prediction.

Kevin is also going to be a regular top-5 guy, I have no idea how he didn't get Verge points last year, but he's killing me on a mountain bike right now.

rosey said...

predictions noted. my only hope is that they are stuck behind lots of slow traffic in VT. oh wait, VT has an endless fire road climb from the start that almost negates starting position. great!

RMM said...

This post's whole purpose is to draw attention away from Rosey and how badly he will be crushing us this season.

rosey said...

rmm, thanks for the complement. i hope i can put up some good performances but i doubt there will be any crushing of the competition from me.

i suspect there will be some new comers (a la dylan mcnicholas) and some old guard (a la james tosca) ruling the front this season.

kevin said...

brian wilichoski is going to rip your legs off and shove them in your spokes. he will do this before the race starts. you will be helpless to stop him.

we are all racing for second. trust me, i beat him once. once. it only angered him. he came back stronger. we are all doomed.

kevin was rosey's bitch in 2008 and he sees no reason why this trend would not continue in 2009.

that picture was the first time i've seen cary race cross, this should give and indication of how far behind him I usually am.

Chris said...

Wilichoski rode THROUGH the 4 field at Gloucester and still finished WAY ahead of second place. I he was adding double-digits to his lead every lap. The dude took 2nd at Canton the same way. Had he not started at the back, it would have been him and Dylan, mano a mano.

CCC said...

Minor FYI - Burns and Sully are both Cat 2s, and will likely race 1/2/3 Masters at VT - they reg'd for the 3 race "just in case" they decide to downgrade. Not happening, IMO.

rosey said...

CCC: does this mean I moved two steps closer to the podium? Scary to think I could even crack top 10 at Verge. In my opinion, if I'm finishing top 10, that shows how much the new categorization has weakened the (formerly) 2/3 field.

Chris and Kevin: It sounds like we can expect Wilichoski to be this season's Dylan McNicholas. Yikes!

C-BOMB said...

Rosie, first off I'm flattered to be in your CX preview. Hopefully you don't jinx me. Other contenders not mentioned here in David Wilcox, Jon Bernhard, Jesse Perreault, Chris Gagne, Gary Bavolar, Chris Bailey, as well as yourself and PVB.

Wilichoski, Sweeney, Bernhard, and Burns/Sully I think are the people to fear most.

Regardless of whatever happens, it's going to be an awesome season!

rosey said...

C-Bomb, sorry to put unwanted attention/pressure on you. It looks like a late comer (Ed Meyer) has bumped you off the podium so you can now relax and ride your own race.

Of course, if CCC is correct, the top 2 are not going to be in our field and that now puts you further up the podium in second!

I guess some of those other guys you mentioned (fear?) are being rather passive about their starting position since they haven't even reg'd yet. Do they know only the top 10 from 2008 get called up on Saturday?

Wilcox, you're going to be behind 60+ people if you don't hurry up and reg.

By the way, I am just using Colin's extremely accurate race predictor here. It's not my opinion, it is what the numbers say...and if I remember correctly, last fall they said a certain someone was destined for a top 3 finish. Colin, who was that?